02/07/2011, 00.00
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Mission among the Montagnards living in remote areas

by J.B. Vu
Kontum diocese covers an area that is home to 2 million people and 40 ethnic minorities. Its initiatives include six new shelters for orphans and works run by Dominican nuns.

Kontum (AsiaNews) – The Catholic Church and Catholic believers continue their daily work to bring “spring” and hope to people of every ethnic and religious background living in areas so remote that they are almost inaccessible. As Benedict XVI said in his message for the 45th World Day for Social Communications, missionaries must announce the Gospel to everyone with the “enthusiasm of the very first Christians” because “The Gospel is not an exclusive possession of those who have received it, but it is a gift to be shared”.

The diocese of Kontum, in central Highlands of Vietnam, is an important case of missionary action at work. The territory covered by the diocese includes Gia Lai and Kontum provinces, and is home to some 40 ethnic minorities, known as ‘Montagnards’, about 2,000,000 people, mostly farmers.

Catholics numbers about 300,000, or 14 per cent of the population. About 90 priests are serving in 70 parishes and 20 mission stations.

Men religious, catechists and nuns have not stopped their work despite the practical difficulties of reaching remote areas.

“In the last few years, young priests were sent to remote and distant areas such as Đăk Glei, Hà Mòn, Hà Tây, Đak Tô, Kon Rơnbang. Some sisters were sent to serve the poor and orphans,” said Father Son, a local priest.

Dominican nuns have set up six shelters for orphans of different ethnic background, he noted. They are also in charge of a number of small social projects designed to help the thousands of poor, elderly, the sick and the unfortunate children who live in remote areas.

“We work in remote mountainous areas. We bring material support to the poor and try to be their spiritual guides. We care for and love their children. The humanity and concern born out of faith are the “spice of life” that makes their life happier,” sister Loan told AsiaNews.

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